The sliding door is half open. The faded blue robe sits loosely over his sinewy shoulders.
Carefully, Mike looks at the oval lawn. Has the hedgehog been here last night? There’s something fragile about it, he thinks. Such a small animal with dangerous spines, but also cute and a bit naive. It reminds him of his ex. Carlos had the same. Outwardly sharp and tough, but also clumsy and with a small heart.
Memories arise. First there are only some snatches. A sweaty disco in Barcelona. Sambuca. An aroused feeling in his gut.
His mood changes. He asks Alexa to start the playlist with instrumental jazz. That was Carlos’s favorite music. Mike closes his eyes. His head moves with the rhythm of the saxophone.
It grinds in Mike’s head. It is always the same. The first thoughts are nice, but then he inevitably wanders off. That evening with the theatrical performance of Glengarry Glen Ross. The discussion afterwards about the resemblance to the film. Carlos thought Alec Baldwin was a better Blake than the actor on stage. “A puny little man,” he sneered. “Not a real salesman. That little guy didn’t radiate anything!”
It’s a downward spiral. Mike thinks about what happened next in their apartment at 1 a.m. Glasses shattered on the floor. Screaming. Upstairs neighbors stomping on the floor.
The last time he saw Carlos.
He is frustrated about his thoughts. Why does this scenario always unfold in the same way? Why can’t he stick with the blissful moments? It’s as if all the neural pathways with a touch of Carlos lead directly to that particular night.
It is enough.
Mike walks to the dispenser on the kitchen table. “Three doses of Flow.” Three green pills fall onto a white enamel saucer. He hesitates. “And two doses of Boost.”
A subtle blue light surrounds the dispenser, a short buzz and then a soft female voice: “Warning: the combination of Flow and Boost is not optimal for your current functioning, based on your DNA, analysis of your feces and sleep quality.”
Mike ignores her: “Do it anyway. Get rid of the negativity.”